1. The beginnings of lyric poetry among the Romans reach back to the prehistoric period of the city, and were as rude and shapeless as was the life of her people. Amid the rough farmer-populace of the turf-walled village by the Tiber the Arval Brethren and the Salii chanted their rude litanies to the rustic deities, - for even then religion was a prime cause in moving men toward poetry. In roughly balanced Saturnian verses men spoke regret and panegyric for the dead and praises for the valorous deeds of the living. The mimetic passion and rude wit of the Roman led him also into boisterous personal satire and into epigram more pungent than polished. But until the last few decades of the Republic these products of the Muse are either anonymous or connected with names well-nigh forgotten, and the remnants that have come down to us display no striking poetic excellence.
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